"Congrega-what?" Ye Chong did not quite get the foreign term.
"You don't know what Congregation is?" Huang Baiyi's stare grew foreign, "With your capabilities, how would you ever be uninvited to a Congregation? Did your teacher disallow you from joining the event?"
"I don't know." The plain, honest reply from Ye Chong was even more confusing.
"Maybe your teacher did not wish you to be distracted by things other than the training. Well then, you have a good teacher there." Huang Baiyi was sentimental, but towards Ye Chong's ever-confused expression, he went on explaining, "A Congregation is an event that happened once every 5 years and is held on Planet Risserd, in which all participants are the topmost experts in every planet out there. It is an important event in the space zone. There are many categories, but martial arts, mystic arts (the mentalist expertise mostly) and alchemy are given much greater attention, as they have the most yardsticks. Every planet has their own set of standards of 10 each on these categories. But, to a planet, 10 yardsticks are a bit less and over the top for decorative purposes, as the competition is far greater in actuality, many people had died during the process. Sigh, all for an impractical fame. Your teacher has a better insight in this! To not let you join the event!" Huang Baiyi gave out a loud sigh, shaking his head.
"Have you joined the Congregation before?" asked Ye Chong, curiously.
"Yes I did." Frankly he replied, "Thrice. But I had never become a champion. Not even once." His tone remained flat, as if the statement was more factual than a fantasy to he himself. It felt like a fantasy to Ye Chong however, as it was not very long since he came to this tiny barren-looking village of the Wangs and he had already encountered quite a number of adepts. Now, set back and imagine, with the area and population of experts multiplied into size of a planet... Huang Baiyi was surely something for he was able to pass the selection process and joined the Congregation thrice at least.
Not that shocked... to be honest. Not like the shock-shocked, jump-shocked, scream-shocked kind of shock, not the kind like fandom on the forum discussing the latest moves of the mysterious YC, Ye Chong had met countless miracle-manufacturing experts since he encountered Mu Shang. Be those experts from the field of piloting, martial arts or the alchemy or those from the darker side like the Mavericks, these surfacing figures already had convinced him that there would always be a greater one somewhere out there, only whether known or not known to the humanity.
"The Wangs?" Huang Baiyi sounded very familiar to every force in the place, "You meant the family of the Segean Sea? They were great once in the past, although they were already facing regression the moment they migrated too the coast of Seagean Sea. Speaking of them, I truly wonder what had happened to them all these years... But I guess their forces lingered somehow so they are still far better off than most folks like us," muttered Huang Baiyi as he tried reminiscing the past, "Oh yes, they once had quite a figure in the tribe, a Jie expert if I remember cor
rectly... he joined the Congregation too... He should be in his eighties now, well, given that he's still alive, though I remember he seemed to have banished his own skills 20 years ago... on an accident? He apparently committed some taboo of his own kind... Wait, why the Wangs all of sudden? Is any of them your teacher?"
"Nope," shook Ye Chong.
Okay, wow, the Wangs haven't even flashed their trump yet. Luckily I did not join the war directly or it would be bad, very bad... But what about Rui Bing and the others... I wonder what had happened to all of them...
"Oh..." Huang Baiyi's eyes, trained by encounters over ages, recognized the expression of Ye Chong, "You seek to avenge? You have bad blood with the family? Well, with your skills, I don't think you would be terribly sorry in the fight. Wait, so did the elderly show up? Or... they have a new Jie expert?"
"They came in waves," concisely Ye Chong replied.
"What?" Huang Baiyi was bewildered, "Don't tell me your teacher never informed you any rules and regulation here before letting you out... You can't be challenging the authority all alone on a whim, it's an embarrassment."
Ye Chong was wordless. It had been a nice chat with Huang Baiyi but he would not want to reveal himself being an utter outsider to the place, not just yet.
"Sigh! Let's stop talking about this! It'd be pointless if we are stuck here!" That was when Huang Baiyi realized they had sailed way off the course, although he was so indulged in chattering at the moment, "So, what's your best move?" And so he initiated a new, better topic.
"Lancing." It took Ye Chong a while to spit the two syllables. He was puzzled by the question, to be honest, since he was technically an all-rounded fighter. He was good at muscle control, exceptional in strength, speed and accuracy. He was also agile in hand-on-hand, or an armed fight with his dagger. He probably was good at everything while being exceptionally good at nothing. If he were to spit something, lancing seemed to be it?
"By lancing you meant this?" Huang Baiyi's glance set upon Ye Chong's wooden lance. Well, Ye Chong no longer possessed a mech, so any form of weaponry would be his key to survival. He had been carrying the wooden lance since forever.
"Yeah," he replied briefly.
"Oh! A lancer!" Huang Baiyi lowered his eyes, reminiscing again, "I do remember there were few adepts of lancing, but lancers do not seem to be as common as swordsmen..." Ye Chong's glance was sending him the awkward signal, "Well, ummm, uh, since, little I know being a Mentalist, not an actual martial arts practitioner."
"To be frank, I did once discuss the issue with the real deal before, and his comments left in my mind forever. He once said that, the weapon might be different, the technique might be different, but the core factor, the determiners to its mastery are always the same few. Do you know what those determiners are?" He looked at Ye Chong interestingly.
"Strength. Speed. Spirit." Ye Chong said without hesitation, then he held for a while, as something came to his mind, "Maybe the Angles too. And timing. Yeah, these two should form the factor of 'Position', both spatial and temporal. Hm, yeah, position."
Huang Baiyi remained silent. His mouth was half open.
"What's wrong? Were my answers wrong?" He then went on pondering his answers earlier for the next three minutes, "It should be right." He lifted his head as he stood strong for his claim.
"You are right indeed," replied Huang Baiyi with sentiments, as he stared at Ye Chong, "You are brilliant for a twenty-three-year-old, knowing the working of this."
"The senior said the same exact reply to me that year. In a typical martial arts execution, Spirit is not as apparent as Strength, Speed or Position, and it would only manifest itself during some occasion when you had achieved a greater self... which I guess you had experienced it well enough."
Ye Chong nodded his head approvingly.
Finally! Huang Baiyi was excited, as he finally found the lighter to Ye Chong's interest! And they began discussing passionately on the determiners of martial arts, with focus on the factor of Spirit. It felt like a talk between a child and an adult at the beginning. The child was Ye Chong of course due to his lack of understanding on Spirit in this, but both of their positions soon switched when other factors came into light.
Their friendship grew rapidly, as Huang Baiyi had appeared to be an inquisitive educated man in Ye Chong's eyes, which was quite his type... Hah, but the irony was, both of them knew well deep in their hearts, that the passionate conversation was merely a mean to kill time. It was only logical for Huang Baiyi to act so excitingly when he finally discovered a companion, and something that he could work hard with that companion.
The motive was not the concern as Ye Chong was amazed by Huang Baiyi's mental capabilities which appeared to be almost peculiar and otherworldly to him. The capabilities were unpredictable enough to earn Ye Chong's respect, since... well, as his policy would go - strength determines hierarchy.
Coincidentally, Huang Baiyi was also as surprised as Ye Chong, no, maybe even more surprised than Ye Chong who looked literally like a monster with those monstrous strength inside his feeble-looking body. Ye Chong reacted quickly, like too quickly while his tenacity was great as he kept his "hobbies" at all eternity. Ye Chong had never stopped spending the rest of his day "pondering" ever since their first encounter.
And Ye Chong, as he said, also did practices. No entertainment, no flashy movement, just the good old-fashioned basic moves. Ye Chong seemed really enjoyed doing it. Huang Baiyi discerned few hundred thousands times of repetition on the same exact movement by Ye Chong as an attempt to improvise it. Ye Chong would come to him, soaked in hot sweat after the practice everyday. Well, it would be very much shocking for a Jie expert like Ye Chong to get himself jammed on the same swing for a gazillion times.
That was when Huang Baiyi realized the fact that Ye Chong's skills were mostly founded by these torturing, punishing, virtually destructive training the whole time.
Ye Chong also demonstrated his tremendous comprehension and thinking skills.
The only thing that annoyed Huang Baiyi was how Ye Chong insisted to not even have a session on the mystic arts with him, while ironically being extremely interested in the working of mental application, although the main focus had always revolved about the ways to overcome Mentalists in a fight. One could imagine Huang Baiyi's quivering corners as he smiled along.
It was only a matter of time till Huang Baiyi realized he had become basically... a coach, more like a training partner, to be precise. Like most wizardry, his mentality was sustaining while his physical attributes were... well, it would be basically a painful comparison if his partner happened to be the inhuman Ye Chong. Huang Baiyi could feel his back withering after days of training, while Ye Chong remained alive and kicking.
I am indeed old... Hah, age is a terminal punishment.
The sentiments rose in his head again and again,.
He did not intend to retain his privacy however, as he never was the stingy person on knowledge-sharing, especially towards a fine diligent young man like Ye Chong. Ambition? Avenge? Appreciation? Those were no longer in his mind after being all alone in the last 10 years.
The simple life was still attractive to him... even though it was a lonesome life. Thought he.
He knew Ye Chong would leave here one day. But his knowledge-sharing session was never getting less passionate. It was a pity however, that Ye Chong was not (and not going to become) a Mentalist.
Sigh, probably the true mystic arts of the Xi Feng clan would mark its actual death very soon. Oh well... what can I do?
At least Huang Baiyi was forgiving on this, unlike his younger self.
Ye Chong caught that growing passion in Huang Baiyi's session and worked harder. He might not become a Mentalist in the end, but he would acquire better understanding on the control of his spirit, his mentality, which should be able to enhance his attacks. Most importantly, he would find a way to fight against the Mentalists from Huang Baiyi's session.
Even though he worked extra hard on learning, never once he stopped figuring out the way to escape this dangerous forest.
And he had just gotten a feasible proposition.
Here's some information.
There are technically two directions from their current site. One descends towards the Black Forest across the valley, another ascends right up to the peak. As mentioned before, there is nothing but a deadly cliff on top of the peak where the mountains covered up the forest.
It would be a simple task if he had a mech, but sadly Ye Chong only had a dagger.
His preposition was... well, of course not making a mech, he might be the most talented craftsman but he was not a magician. Perhaps he could make a simple glider, he thought. The peak to the ground stood at a height about 3000 to 5000 meters. If nature was kind enough to not drastically change the direction of air, at great chance he would nail a safe landing. That would sound less like a dead-or-alive gamble compared to a trip to the Black Forest.
Thanks to the fundamental knowledge of mech production, Ye Chong was very much familiar to the theories of aerodynamics. A glider however, was something of the museum at that period. So Ye Chong could only design one from scratch based on calculation and the knowledge he had.
Huang Baiyi acted cooperatively the next few days, as he did not disturb Ye Chong, although a little bewildered by Ye Chong's blatantly increased duration on his pondering session.
Ye Chong went to the Black Forest and returned with a broad log. It was quite a sight to see a feeble man carrying a giant log like toothpick. Huang Baiyi's expression was priceless. The twigs had been removed by Ye Chong promptly, judging by the fresh cuts on the surface.
"What are you going to do with this?" asked Ye Chong in confusion. He simply could not figure out the hows and whys.
Ye Chong worked on, without lifting his head, "Something to fly."
"Something to what?" Huang Baiyi could not believe his ears. He had neither seen an actual mech, nor learned aerodynamic. The only inorganic substance that could fly was probably a spaceship to him.
But spaceship? Log wood?
Ye Chong carried on slicing. His dagger was the perfect tool for this. It was sharp enough to slice Ironwood, so it was nothing strange that he could cut this piece of log effortlessly. Ye Chong picked the trunk of a wood named Sandtree. The hardness and durability were great. The best thing was this kind of tree had a rather balanced quality across the entire trunk. So it would be convenient for Ye Chong to perform a calculation on its center of gravity.
No processor, no fancy technology, all Ye Chong could rely to realize his proposition was his head and his brain.